Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind the Making of “House Party”

August 13, 2012  |  
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*Smiles Profusely* I don’t know about you but just the mention of House Party is guaranteed to put a huge grin on my face. At a time when movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller‘s Day Off were making a killing at the movie theaters, the black community was waiting for that same type of good-natured flick. You know, the type of movie where we could see young black kids having fun, where the only real threat to their lives was catching a butt whooping instead of a bullet. That’s what House Party did for us. It showed us the fun side and honestly made us feel lucky to be young and black.  We needed this movie and we needed it to be well done. Luckily, with the combination of a talented cast, hilarious one liners, great music and a little bit of romance, we got just that.

The music gets you hype, you still do the dance with your homegirl and the DVD is on the shelf right now, but you probably don’t know these the behind the scene secrets. Check them out.

Who’s the director?

Reginald Hudlin was fresh out of college when his film was picked up by New Line Cinema. House Party was actually the film he wrote as his senior thesis at Harvard. Inspired by the rise and influence of Hip Hop in popular culture, Hudlin said he wanted to write a movie that incorporated this art form. He also originally wanted the film to encourage kids to use condoms to combat the AIDS epidemic that was on the rise in the early to mid ’80’s. The film was popular on campus and eventually it caught the attention of a junior executive at New Line Cinema.

The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff were supposed to play the lead roles

When it came time to cast the movie, it only made sense that it would involve Hip Hop stars. And Will and Jazzy Jeff owed New Line Cinema a favor…like legally. In their single, “Nightmare on My Street” they sampled Freddy Kruger from the similarly titled horror film “Nightmare on Elm Street.” They came with a settlement and a part of it was for Will and Jazzy Jeff to appear in a New Line film. The studio suggested them to Hudlin. Hudlin had his reservations, saying he didn’t want them to do the film out of obligation.  Not completely ruling it out, he talked to Russell Simmons about it. Simmons said that the two had another movie they were working on and said no. So that’s how they opened up the casting.  As you might have imagined, the Fresh Prince Jazzy Jeff movie never happened.

How did Kid-N-Play come into the picture?

Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin were originally background dancers for Salt-N-Peppa. When they first started rapping they were called The Fresh Force Crew. Maybe Salt N Pep inspired them to take on the “N.” Wherever it came from, it was a good decision. They got the role because Hudlin was a fan of Kid’n Play’s music and just so happened to know people on their management team. He asked the team about their work ethic and heard nothing but good things, so he approached them with the deal. Although, they had the option to go on tour, the two took the movie deal and made history.

The Dance

Now that you know that Kid ‘n Play used to be background dancers it’s not hard to see how they were able to break it down for this movie. The Kid ‘n Play kick-step was already a part of their schtick. So naturally, it showed up in the film. As for the girls, actress A.J. Johnson, who played Sharane, Sidney’s friend, wasn’t too bad of a dancer herself. She choreographed the girls’ portion of the routine. Not bad, eh?

And since I’m all about saving you some time, I’ve included the video below because who can ever get enough of it?

Robin Harris

It’s terribly sad what happened to Robin Harris. A comedian, known for his “down home” style, it took some folks in L.A. a while to adjust to, not only his material, but his diction. One critic left his show utterly confused, saying she couldn’t understand him. But that didn’t stop others from recognizing and celebrating his brilliance. Spike Lee was the first director to take a chance on Harris by putting him in his classic film, Do The Right Thing. From there his career took off and he was constantly busy, selling out shows across the country. He was expected to blow up even further with all the movie roles, comedy specials and additional exposure. But all of that came to a halt. Harris, who was keeping a busy schedule, also suffered from a breathing problem that often affected his sleep. Just nine days after House Party had been released, Harris who had just finished a show, had dinner with friends, went to a Blues club and later died in his sleep in his hotel room in Chicago.

The film Bebe’s Kids, which is a bit from Harris’ standup comedy show, was originally going to be a feature with live actors. But in order to pay tribute to Harris, Hudlin decided to continue the project as an animated feature. As a child of the ’90’s, I’m so glad he did. Bebe’s Kids is a classic.

The Sequels

These studios can be so scandalous. Believe it or not, the original director, Hudlin, had nothing to do with the films’ sequels. New Line wanted Hudlin to make the movie for the same $2.5 million dollars he made the first one with. Considering the first movie’s immense success and the fact that  Hudlin was receiving offers from every other major studio, that is quite insulting to say the least. So Hudlin declined. But he’s still winning. Since the original idea was his, he’s received checks for all of them. No wonder the sequels were pretty crappy after the second one. They lacked the proper direction. Shame.

House Party 5?

Usually, by the time we get to this part, I’m vehemently against touching the classics. And you would think with the current, stinky track record for the House Party 3 and 4, I wouldn’t be too excited about this one either…but this one would be directed by Hudlin. Brothers Bowlegged Lou and B-Fine of the rap group and subsequent production company, Full Force, were the guys who played the bullies in the original House Party and recorded the song made popular by the film, “Ain’t My Type of Hype.”  They’ve stayed in contact with Hudlin over the years and announced earlier this year, at a New York Public Library, that the script for the sequel was being fine tuned. According to Black America Web, Hudlin sees the film coming together as a new school vs. old school party. The Full Force brothers said Kid’n Play are down and Tisha would also join in, if the script is right. I can see potential…what do you think?

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